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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond


JULY 2000



It appears as though the web site is finally back to normal at last. I was informed at around 16:30 today that normal upload facilities within the FP2000 environment were now available again. Hopefully, everything will quickly return to normal after what has been almost two months of continued technical problems. 

I will be away for a few days from late this evening until Tuesday in Douglas. Obviously during that period there will be no e-mail responses and I am not certain if my mobile text message facility works on the IoM outside of the Orange area. 

The next update will be Wednesday August 2 followed by Sunday August 6. I will try and catch up with some backlog material as soon as possible. 

[STOP PRESS: - On Trying to upload via Front Page - same old problems occurred!]


I have commenced work on a project which had been planned for sometime - The creation of Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping - Photographic CDs. 

The pictures which appear on the web site are only a few of the many hundreds of ship photographs which I take each year. By the very nature of web sites there is always a limit to the size and number of pictures that can be uploaded. 

M&ISS Photographic CDs will provide high quality images in high to very high resolution which really do justice to the high resolution monitors now available. The storage capacity of CD-ROM permits sequences of shots taken during berthing manoeuvres to be included, features on certain Maritime events, detailed studies of individual ships etc.

I am at present working on a compilation of pictures taken between 1994 and 1998 which depict Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping and vessels from fringe areas in very high resolution. Some of these pictures have appeared as small images on the web site in its early days, however, many have not appeared at all.

It is proposed that these disks will sell at a very modest cost aimed at covering production costs and contributing to the running costs of M&ISS. Hence they will be very competitively priced compared to picture books. I am aiming for an early September availability of the first M&ISS CD ROM. More details next month.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, Adrian Sweeney, DENBIGH Project, Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University and "others".


THE PRINCESS MARGARET / THE PRINCESS ANNE - There is a rumour circulating that the two remaining SRN4 Hovercraft which are due to be withdrawn from service on the English Channel this autumn have been sold to Spanish interests for operation to Morocco. Duty Free would still be available on this route as it passes outside of the EU.


A year on from the demise of intra-EU duty-free, Hoverspeed has redeveloped its UK terminals into duty-paid showcases, designed to help re-educate passengers about the continued benefits of cross-Channel shopping.

The showcases display a wide range of wines, spirits, beer and tobacco which can be bought onboard and in the company's Continental Hoverstores at savings of up to 50% on UK high street prices.

Having browsed the selection on offer at the UK terminal, passengers travelling with Hoverspeed can pre-order wines, beers and tobacco in case quantities, for collection on arrival from the Hoverstores in Calais, Boulogne, Dieppe, and Ostend.

Hoverspeed remains the only cross-Channel operator to offer its passengers the benefit of land-based shopping on the Continent, taking advantage of lower duty rates in France and Belgium. The duty on a 75cl bottle of wine is just 2p in France, compared with £1.09 in the UK.


Details of new proposals for passenger terminal facilities on the Liverpool waterfront have been unveiled today as part of the Liverpool City Council backed "Liverpool Vision" plan to revamp the City Centre at a cost of £1.5billion.

The plans reveal two separate landing stages one for the Mersey Ferries and one for liners and cruise ships - and presumably Sea Containers? This is very much a reversion to the arrangement which existed in the early days of the original Liverpool Landing Stage when two separate landing stages  existed. 

It is apparent from the plans that the "Memorial to The Heroes of The Marine Engine Room" will be moved onto what appears to be the site of the Floating Road cut! 

Meanwhile a grand new passenger terminal will be constructed on the site presently occupied by the Sea Containers portakabin facility. The building will be very much the same scale as new the adjoining office and hotel developments. However, it is not apparent where the car marshalling facilities will be situated nor the location of the linkspan pontoon. 

The Mersey Ferries Landing Stage will be moved further south, closer to the Canning River Entrance. The present site of the Porsche and Mercedes Dealership will be replaced by a futuristic "Icon" building which described at the "fourth grace" of the waterfront could provide home to a Museum of Immigration. 

JHL'S COMMENT: The picture which appeared in the Echo and is reproduced above looks impressive. However, one wonders if this will turn out to be yet another one of those Liverpool "Pie In The Sky" projects? - Only time will tell.  However, I imagine that Mrs. Mackrel and her friends will probably already be preparing for yet another battle.


It appears that the City of Liverpool has been granted £220,000 from the Millennium Commission lottery fund towards another end of year party. Again there are plans for the waterfront to be transformed into a "Festival of Fun" which include a huge party, pop concert. However, it is not clear yet if this will involve the use of the Pier Head area which was disfigured for over a month by the monstrous Cream Millennium marquees. It is to be hoped that sanity prevails this year and all such facilities are provided at the more than suitable King's Dock site.


"Ships of Mann" is a new magazine published by Adrian Sweeney aimed at friends and enthusiasts of The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and other shipping companies with Manx links or the Steam Packet Company itself. 

Whilst the magazine's primary focus will be The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, the magazine will also take an interest in rivals and associates past and present such as Manx Line, Liverpool & North Wales Steamship Co, Norwest as well as Waverley and Balmoral operations in the Irish Sea and other Sea Containers Group Companies.

"Ships of Mann" is illustrated throughout in both colour and monochrome and features both current and historical photographs plus reproductions of old timetables, sailing arrangements and memorabilia. 

Editor: Adrian Sweeney, 7 Wood Lane, Prescot, Merseyside L34 1LN 

Tel: 01512894409 Mobile: 07887482024 e-mail:

Subscription Information:

John Coates, High Raise, 36 Ballacriy Park, Colby, Castletown, Isle of Man IM9 4LU


EUROPEAN PIONEER, which operates on P&O Irish Sea's Fleetwood - Larne route, has just received a £500,000 facelift of its on board restaurant, bar and lounge areas, during its routine maintenance and dry docking being carried out at A&P facilities at Falmouth.

"We are investing more than £500,000 on refurbishing the existing restaurant and bar area of the EUROPEAN PIONEER," said Phil Simpson, UK Sales Manager P&O Irish Sea.  "In addition we are adding a whole new seating section on the starboard side of the vessel that links to the existing facilities".

"As well as providing extra space it is a place for drivers to relax and enjoy the excellent food during the crossing.  The new area can accommodate up to 33 passengers and has video games and satellite TV to keep them amused during the crossing".

"We are continually reviewing ways of upgrading the onboard facilities on our ships to ensure that passengers can enjoy cruising across the Irish Sea and make the most of the break in their often stressful journeys".

EUROPEAN PIONEER will be re-entering service on the Fleetwood - Larne route in the first week of August.


The 9,826 grt Cypriot registered ship LILIET has finally departed from Liverpool bound for France after an enforced stay of several months at West Langton. Originally detained by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency due to a number of defects earlier in the year, LILIET was then arrested over a dispute concerning the ownership of a cargo of steel

The local press reports that port staff intervened to ensure that the 34-strong Cuban crew, including five women, had adequate facilities. Port health authority manager Brian McCann said: "Our concern was that food and water should be made available to the crew and that they did not suffer any conditions that would harm their health."


HSS STENA EXPLORER is currently operating at reduced speed due to problems with a water jet. The water jet requires replacement.  The craft will be taken off the Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire run next Tuesday, August 1, for 3 round trips to undertake the necessary work.


The Belfast Telegraph reported this week that BELFAST Harbour Commissioners welcomed the prospect of the Northern Ireland Assembly reaching a decision this autumn on the future of the Port of Belfast.

Commissioners chairman Frank Cushnahan said the prolonged period of uncertainty over what was going to happen to the port had been unsatisfactory for all concerned.

The decision as to whether to privatise the port rests with the Minister for Regional Development, who will study a report from the Regional Development committee.

Peter Robinson had said an early decision on the future of the port would be one of his priorities, but he is due to hand over his Ministry to Gregory Campbell on Thursday.

At the end of June, the committee said it was looking favourably at the option of a restructured trust port with extended powers, but said it needed further clarification on a number of issues.

Mr Cushnahan said the board was seeking clarification on a number of matters relating to this option, and would make a considered response in due course.

He raised the issue in his statement in the Commissioners' annual report, which noted that the number of passengers travelling through the port had exceeded two million in 1999 for the first time.

The report said turnover increased by 9% to £20.9m, but the pre-tax profit of £11.8m was down from £12.5m the previous year. Operating profit increased by 6% to £10.8m.

In September, Stena is due to transfer its conventional ferry operation back to Larne, which will reduce passenger numbers using Belfast.

However, Stena's HSS operation to Stranraer will remain at Belfast, along with the SeaCat to Troon and Heysham, and Norse Irish Ferries to Liverpool.

On the freight side, Merchant Ferries, formerly Belfast Freight Ferries, attracted increased traffic to its four-ship freight service to Heysham.

Merchant Ferries' parent company, the Cenargo Group, acquired Norse Irish Ferries, and the Commissioners expect additional shipping capacity to be introduced on the Liverpool route next year when the new Twelve Quays ro-ro berth is introduced on the Mersey.

During 1999, unit loads increased from 447,000 to 456,000, while bulk cargo grew from 6.4 to 6.6 million tonnes.

A total of 9,022 ship arrivals was registered in 1999, compared to 8,896 in the previous year.


Part of famous Birkenhead-built blockade runner recovered

Galveston, Texas, July 25, 2000 - Archaeologists from Texas A&M University on Monday recovered a critical piece of machinery from the wreck of the British paddle
steamer DENBIGH, one of the most successful blockade runners of the American Civil War.

DENBIGH was built at the Birkenhead shipyard of John Laird, Sons & Co. in 1860, and ran between Liverpool and Rhyl until being converted to a blockade runner in 1863.

The eight-foot iron connecting rod, estimated to weigh about 1,200 pounds, transferred the power of the engine to the ship's port side paddlewheel. Efforts to recover the connecting rod began Saturday, but were postponed for 48 hours when increasing chop on the water and a falling tide caused dive operations to be suspended temporarily.

Immediately after it was recovered, the connecting rod was taken to Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University in College Station, where it will undergo cleaning and treatments to preserve the metal. If left untreated in the open air, project team members say, the iron could crumble to a pile of rust chips very quickly.

The project, organized by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, is focusing on documenting the ship's design and technology, according to the project's director, Barto Arnold.

"This vessel represents the pinnacle of British shipbuilding technology in the mid-19th century," Arnold says. "When she was new in 1860, the engineering journals praised her as opening a new age in ship design."

Assistance in recovering the connecting rod was provided by Superior Diving Company, Inc. of Houston, which sent commercial divers and lifting gear for use in the effort.

According to investigators, DENBIGH ran aground on a sandbar here at the end of May 1865, and was shelled and burned by Union ships blockading the port. That occurred more than a month after the war ended in the East, and President Lincoln was assassinated.

DENBIGH was not a warship, according to Arnold. Like most blockade runners, Arnold says, DENBIGH was an unarmed, British merchant ship. "This was a business," Arnold says, "and they were making money hand-over- fist."

Arnold suggests that there would have been little of monetary value in the way of cargo. The real value of this wreck, he says, is what it can teach us about how ships were built in the 1850s and 1860s. Iron was a relatively new construction material at the time, and ships like DENBIGH were used to test new methods of construction and engine designs.

"They didn't have a lot of theoretical engineering knowledge like we have today. They couldn't try out new designs with computer simulations," he says. "This was empirical, trial-and-error knowledge. You build it and see if it works. If it does, you refine the design a little more. If it doesn't, you back up and start again."

Arnold stresses that the work to document and preserve the wreck have benefited from the efforts of many researchers, both in the U.S. and in the U.K. One researcher who deserves special mention is Jeremy (Jerry) Williams, a  Merseyside historian whose specialty is the Merseyside region and its relation to the American Civil War. Williams visited the United States last autumn speaking on DENBIGH, the Confederate warship Alabama, and other events in Liverpool in 1861-65.
DENBIGH made almost fourteen knots, or sixteen miles per hour, on her trial run when she was new in 1860. The Mechanic's Magazine referred to "the graceful form of the steamer [that] became thus an object of admiration to the number of persons who witnessed her performance from the shore, and whenever other vessels came into competition with her in speed she left them behind with the greatest ease."

During the Civil War, DENBIGH made thirteen successful round trips between Havana and Mobile, Alabama and Havana and Galveston during 1864 and 1865. This made her the second-most successful blockade runner of the entire Civil War.

The present field season began on June 1, and continues through the end of July. The project utilizes about a dozen divers and researchers. Most are volunteers, undergraduate and graduate students from around the United States and Canada.

Project Director Arnold anticipates that one or two more years will be necessary to complete his team's investigation of the site. The ultimate goal, he says, is to recover one of the ship's engines and drive train, including the 18-foot diameter paddlewheel. After cleaning and preservation, Arnold says, the artefacts will be placed in a museum for all to see.

The Denbigh Project is organized by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, and is funded entirely through contributions by individuals, corporations and foundations.

Visit the DENBIGH Project website at:



It was announced some time ago that the British Columbia Ferry Corporation was to abandon its short lived and costly venture into high speed ferries.

It has now been announced that BCF has appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers to manage the sale of its three high speed catamaran, PacifiCat, passenger ferries.

It was in March this year, the provincial government announced that it planned to close Catamaran Ferries International, a subsidiary to state-owned BC Ferries, which operated the PacifiCat fast ferries.

The PacifiCats, PACIFICAT EXPLORER, PACIFICAT DISCOVERY and PACIFICAT VOYAGER are among the largest passenger and vehicle fast ferries in the world. Fully laden, the 122 m ships can carry 1,000 passengers and 250 cars at a speed of 34 knots.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers is looking to existing ferry operators and possibly even newly formed companies to make offers for the three identical ferries. The sale is to be launched officially in August with the three available for immediate delivery.

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City Netgates appear to have made no progress in providing full access to the web site and file upload by FTP continues. I had said that I would give them until mid August to get the problems sorted, however, due to the lack of progress I intend to start looking for a new host as soon as I return from the Isle of Man early next week. 

Last week I request visitors' opinions  on whether the site should have:

  1. Smaller capacity - faster complete turnover of content [Max 50 Meg]

  2. Higher capacity - slower turn over - around six months [or more] as at present. [Max 300 Meg]

The aim being to help me decide whether I should choose a high profile, but more expensive, local host who  would probably be easy to call on if things should fall over - option 1 or another host offering competitive storage rates BUT situated many miles away - option 2.

For your information the site is currently around 100 Meg.

At present I have had one message in favour of each of the options. Hardly conclusive! If you would still like to make a comment please e-mail

The next site update will be on Wednesday 26 July. Please note there is no update scheduled for Next Sunday July 30 as I will be away.

John Luxton

July 23, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Shepherd, Bryan Morgan and "Others"


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - Friday July 21 saw the launch of the new movie "Thomas and the Magic Railroad"  starring Alec Baldwin and Peter Fonda which was filmed on the Isle of Man.

To help promote the film, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the Isle of Man Department of Transport arranged for the 07:00 sailing of SEACAT ISLE OF MAN to carry a somewhat unusual cargo on the main cabin roof.

On Thursday July 20 SEACAT ISLE OF MAN departed Douglas at 07:00 on her 07:00 sailing for Liverpool. As she  approached the Liverpool Sea Terminal she will start a massive Thomas the Tank Engine inflatable was blown up.

Thomas was met at the Sea Terminal by the Company’s very own “fat controller”, and local Merseyside schoolchildren. Next week 20 children from the Merseyside charity “KIND” –Kids In Need and Distress- will be given a fun packed day out to the Isle of Man by SeaCat. They will see the movie, ride on the steam railway where it was filmed and the day will end with a big Thomas the Tank engine themed party!


COASTAL BAY - frequent travellers on the Irish Sea will be familiar with the small container ships of COASTAL CONTAINER line which operate from the Seaforth Container Terminal on Merseyside to Dublin and Belfast. 

One of these vessels, COASTAL BAY, a regular on the Liverpool to Dublin route disgraced herself early on Friday morning whilst enroute from Dublin to Liverpool. The vessel ran aground at Church Bay near Holyhead around early on Friday morning.

Holyhead Coastguard received a call at 00:30 on Friday to report that the 88 metre, 2463 grt coaster with seven people on board had run aground on at Church Bay, near Holyhead. The vessel, COASTAL BAY, was on its way from Dublin to Liverpool with a mixed cargo which including some firelighters when it struck shortly before high water.

Holyhead Coastguard made an immediate request for Holyhead Lifeboat and Holyhead Coastguard Rescue Team to go to the scene. Once on scene, the lifeboat put a line on board ‘COASTAL BAY’ and attempted to pull her off. The vessel had also tried to go astern in order to try and drive herself off earlier.

Minor damage resulted in a small spillage of diesel oil, but this was not thought to be of significance.

On Saturday Morning the Howard Smith Towage tug TRAFALGAR which is based on Merseyside managed to pull the stranded off the rocks and tow her to Holyhead for examination by divers.

A correspondent noted TRAFALGAR with COASTAL BAY in tow passing the  Bar at about 07:30  and off Q.1 at 08:00 on Sunday July 23.

Weather conditions at the time were good and there is some mystery as to why the COASTAL BAY should have run aground. 

It is only just over three years ago that a slightly larger general cargo container vessel CITA on a voyage from Southampton to Belfast ran aground on St.Mary's Isles of Scilly. The CITA, however, was not so lucky driving hard onto Newfoundland Point she shed her containers, the contents of which were eagerly gathered by locals residents. At the subsequent enquiry into the loss of the CITA it transpired that the  ship had been left on auto pilot and the officer of the watch was asleep!


20 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during June 2000 after failing port state control safety inspections, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced this week. The list consists of 16 ships detained in June, along with 4 ships still under detention from previous months. The rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.9%. This is a slight increase on the 12-month rate of 5.7% to May.

The ships detained included:-

  • A Netherlands-flag general cargo vessel detained for 17 days in Montrose. Oil was found in the ballast tank and the oily water separator was found to be inoperative. In addition, charts and nautical publications were found to be out of date and the line throwing rockets were expired. No valid statutory certificates were on board.

  • An Irish-flag general cargo vessel that was still under detention at the end of June. Excess engine oil was found around the engine room, constituting a fire hazard. The 14 deficiencies also included a defective fire detection system, an inoperative emergency fire pump, an inoperative rescue boat engine and defective radio batteries.

 6 of the ships detained in June were registered with flags targeted for priority inspection under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control.

Ships detained at Irish / Celtic Sea Ports during June included:

Date and Place of Detention

30/6/2000, Milford Haven

Ship's Name




Type of Vessel


IMO Number





Qualitas Shipping Co – Limassol, Cyprus

Classification Society

Acromarit Services S A – Geneva, Switzerland

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Still Under Detention At The End Of June. Poor Maintenance Of Shipboard Equipment. Poor Emergency Preparedness. (Ism Auditors – Dnv)

Date and Place of Detention


Ship's Name

Arklow Dawn



Type of Vessel

General Cargo

IMO Number





Arklow Shipping Co. – County Wicklow, Ireland

Classification Society

Germanischer Lloyd

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 2 Days. Excess Oil In Engine Room, Constituting A Fire Hazard. Fire Detection System Defective. Emergency Fire Pump Defective. Rescue Boat Engine Inoperative. Radio Batteries Defective.

Date and Place of Detention

27/6/2000, Birkenhead

Ship's Name




Type of Vessel

General Cargo

IMO Number



Sao Tomé E Principe


Qualitas Shipping Co – Limassol, Cyprus

Classification Society

Soeterimeer Fekkes – Rotterdam, Netherlands

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 2 Days. Ship Not Manned In Accordance With Safe Manning Document. One Gmdss Certificate-Holder Missing. Communication Inoperative Between Emergency Steering Room And Bridge.

Date and Place of Detention

23/6/2000, Milford Haven

Ship's Name

De Vrouw Marie



Type of Vessel

General Cargo

IMO Number





Mr De Boer – Rotterdam, Netherlands

Classification Society

Panama Maritime Documentation Services Inc

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 4 Days. Lifejackets Inoperative. Liferafts Incorrectly Rigged. No Rescue Boat With Launching Appliance. Fire Hoses Not On Board. Pyrotechnics Out Of Date. No Line-Throwing Apparatus. Ship Not Manned In Accordance With Safe Manning Document. Epirb Identification Incorrect. Radio Mmsi Identification Incorrect.

Date and Place of Detention

20/6/2000, Glasgow

Ship's Name




Type of Vessel

General Cargo

IMO Number





Golden Bear Shipping – Limassol, Cyprus

Classification Society

Germanischer Lloyd

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 2 Days. Safety Equipment Certificate Overdue For Annual Survey.

Date and Place of Detention

6/6/2000, Truro

Ship's Name




Type of Vessel

Bulk Carrier

IMO Number





Star Express Trading Sa – Monrovia, Liberia

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 6 Days. No Valid Safety Management Certificate. Crew Dangerously Incompetent With Respect To Fire Drills.


LE EITHNE - The INS Helicopter Patrol Vessel lost a member of its crew overboard this week. The vessel had been returning to Ireland after a courtesy visit to Boston, USA.

Twenty year old Able Mechanic Robert Dean of Cork City was reported missing on Thursday morning when he failed to report for duty for a morning watch, though he had been seen 10 minutes earlier. At the time EITHNE was 920 miles west of Bantry. The Canadian Coastguard based at Halifax, Nova Scotia, had coordinated an extensive air and sea search involving the EITHNE a tug and a fixed wing aircraft.

On Friday the search for the missing sailor was called off and a memorial service held on board the ship led by Fr. Des Campion, Naval Service Chaplain.

Mr Dean had been in the Naval Service for only one year, and the LE EITHNE was his first ship, with the US visit being his first sea trip abroad. The Atlantic crossing was the second undertaken by the vessel, and involved visiting three US ports, Newport, Rhode Island, New York and Boston, as part of the Tall Ships festival. The sail training vessel, ASGARD II, has also participated in the Tall Ships race.

Mr Dean is  the second seaman in the service to have been lost on operational duty. Leading Seaman Michael Quinn from Drogheda, Co Louth, died in January 1990 in the course of an attempt to rescue a Spanish fishing vessel which had run aground with 17 crew on board during a storm warning in Bantry Bay.


On July 14, James Fisher & Sons Plc, the Barrow based shipping company announced the proposed acquisition and conversion of two vessels as cable laying ships subject to shareholder approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on July 31, 2000.

James Fisher plc already owns and operates the highly successful cable laying ship,  NEXUS, currently  on time charter with Global Marine Systems Limited (formerly Cable & Wireless Marine). As part of its specialist shipping activities

Given the success of the NEXUS and the likely continuing demand for cable laying vessels to lay fibre optic telecommunications cables, the company has decided to further its expertise and reputation in this specialised and growing market through the purchase of MOTHER OF PEARL and OCEANIC PRINCESS 

The two Vessels are currently ro/ro ships and are highly suitable for conversion to cable laying operations. The MOTHER OF PEARL, built in 1997, will cost US$7.7 million (£5.1 million) to purchase, on or before 17 July 2000, from Pearl Lines Co. Ltd. and approximately US$22.3 million (£14.9 million) to convert to a cable laying vessel, making a total purchase and conversion cost of approximately US$30 million (£20 million). If the shareholder resolution is not approved, the MOTHER OF PEARL could be sold on the open market.

The second ship OCEANIC PRINCESS, built in 1984, is currently undergoing conversion by Caldwell Cable Ventures Inc. and will be purchased for approximately US$18 million (£12 million), representing its cost of purchase and conversion to the expected date of its acquisition by James Fisher. Completion of the conversion to a cable laying vessel will cost approximately an additional US$12 million (£8 million), making a total purchase and conversion cost of approximately US$30 million (£20 million).

On completion of conversion work, both Vessels will be the subject of a five year time charter, with further options to extend on the Charterer's behalf. The Charterer will be it-international Telecom, USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Advanced Telecom Systems.


Though much adverse comment has appeared on the M&ISS site concerning the lack of major interest in ship preservation within these islands and the difficulties encountered by some preservation and heritage groups it is pleasing to hear further updates on the progress of the former River Severn vehicle ferry SEVERN PRINCESS.

Bryan Morgan of the Severn Princess Restoration Group writes: " Work continues on the Severn Princess, as you will see if you check out the Restoration log on   New components have been fabricated and delivered, and we had a tour of inspection by Mrs. Anne Palmer, whose husband, the late Percy Palmer, was skipper of the Severn Princess from the day she was launched.

Have a look again at the site next week when yet more restoration pictures will be uploaded.  Things seem to be happening quite fast now that the interior work in the hull is almost finished.  You can be sure it'll slow down again when the paint brushes come out...

Important bit of news - we now actually own a pair of new engines.  Tim will be telling you all about this in the next newsletter which is at this moment in preparation.

It'll be "trips round the bay" before we know where we are!"


BALMORAL believed to be on light passage from Glasgow to Bristol instead of holding course past the Chickens approx 20.35 Sunday evening turned to port, making for Port St Mary. Off Kallow Point she slowed and launched an inflatable which came into Port St Mary Breakwater where she was met by a group of people with fresh fish. Whilst the inflatable was in the water BALMORAL circled slowly in the bay - looking magnificent in the evening sunshine.

A correspondent notes that presumably if she had gone alongside she would have had to pay harbour dues - not that there would have been anyone to collect them at that time of night and there were plenty of potential volunteer rope handlers watching!


The sailing ship ESTELLE is due to arrive at Clarendon Dock, Belfast on August 3.

She has been rebuilt by volunteers in Finland using environmentally friendly materials.
The vessel now sails the oceans promoting fair trade for Third World countries and sustainable development.

War on Want NI and Oxfam are behind the ship's visit and invite the public to come to Donegal Quay on Saturday, August 5, for a day of fun events.

There will be a Mad Hatter's Tea Party when people can sample fair trade drinks and snacks, and there will be stalls with fairly traded crafts and food, entertainers and face painters.

The charities also want visitors to bring along their old tools, such as chisels and hammers, for Tools for Solidarity who will repair them and ship them to Africa.


The Belfast Telegraph reported this week that Bernard Moffat of the Manx based Celtic League has revealed that the report into the sinking of the Portavogie fishing vessel, AMBER ROSE, is due for release in the near future.

"The Chief Inspector of accidents at the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Rear Admiral JS Lang has told me in a letter he hopes to publish the report before the end of the month," Mr Moffat said.

The 80ft vessel sank off the Isle of Man almost two years ago with the loss of its skipper, Portavogie fisherman Tom Hughes.

He was the only one of the six-strong crew, which included his 16 year old son Mark, who failed to make it to the surface when the trawler capsized and sank in a short time.

Controversy surrounded attempts to recover Mr Hughes' body` when the British government refused the services of Royal Navy divers.

Mr Hughes' body was eventually recovered by civilian divers.

"The Labour government's mean-spirited response at the time led to calls for a fund to be established for recovery purposes," said Mr Moffatt.

"This was put into sharp contrast this year when, following the SOLWAY HARVESTER tragedy the Manx government moved speedily to pledge money and resources to recover crew members' bodies and also lift the vessel for examination."



A small advertisement appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post this week:

"Your day trip to Ireland by car starts here"

"Now you can enjoy a full day in Ireland with your car. With regular
departures from Holyhead and a crossing time of only 99 minutes by Stena HSS
it won't be long before you hold the keys to Ireland"

From £49 Day Return - valid to 31 August."

Considering it is now peak season this is quite an unbelievable fare. The advertisement suggested that bookings could be made on line but the Stena Line web site did not give any details.  


This week a former Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist was ordered to pay £250 compensation to a woman whose arm he bit during an entertainment cruise on board HSS STENA VOYAGER.

Paul Ross, aged 42, from Old Forge Park, Newtownards, denied assaulting the woman and two men after alleged sectarian remarks were made during the cruise. He is no longer a member of the police force.

Christine Brennan had told Belfast Magistrates Court last month that Ross sank his teeth into her arm as she tried to protect herself.

"I was screaming at him but he wouldn't let go," she said. "He bit my arm very badly and the skin was broken." At yesterday's resumed hearing Ross said he was sitting in the ship's disco area when he was attacked.

He said he heard someone say, "Hit him", and he could remember nothing after that "only punches".

He denied biting Mrs. Brennan or assaulting anyone else and said he was "astounded" when he was arrested after the ship returned to port.

Resident Magistrate John Clery said he had listened to confusing accounts of what happened and that was inevitable because of the amount of drink that was taken.

He said he was satisfied that retribution was afflicted on Ross and that he was seriously assaulted.

"But I am also satisfied he initiated the fracas and that he lunged at Mrs. Brennan with his mouth," said Mr Clery.

"He is fortunate not to be facing a more serious charge in relation to that assault." He fined Ross £100 for assaulting Mrs. Brennan and £50 each for the assaults on the two men.

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Another week has passed by with the web site still not functioning correctly and with updates confined to text pages which are FTP transferred. This is despite a backlog of gallery material awaiting posting. As I have mentioned previously I am reluctant to perform major updates outside of the FP2000 environment as this may result in damage to the rest of the site which I might  then unable to rectify.

Further news from City Netgates is that the site has been copied across to the new server. This should be commissioned tomorrow, Monday July 17. Of course this update may temporarily disappear in that eventuality as presumably it will be posted to the old previous server. I will check this out tomorrow evening. 

Around five weeks have now passed since the web site last functioned correctly, and it is rather frustrating. However, it is pleasing to note that whilst things have not been operating properly the site continues to get a large number of visits each week.

Of course, I am now considering possible alternatives should the site still not be functional by mid August which is the deadline I am giving Netgates. 

At present I have examined two possible options:

Locally hosting by Merseyworld, this company hosts many Merseyside websites including a number of commercial shipping sites. The advantage of using Merseyworld is that it is a prominent gateway site for anyone seeking information on Merseyside. The hosting charges are quite hefty which would probably result in a maximum site size of 25 or 50 Megabytes. [Earlier this year the site had been pushing towards 100Meg!] If Merseyworld was considered the option there would be a much greater turn over of material than at present. 

Another option considered is to use a London company RAMJAM for hosting. This company offers up to 200 Meg for around the same rate that Merseyworld charge for 25meg - cheaper but its not local and of course without the Merseyside connection.

Difficult decisions may lie ahead! The RAMJAM option may appear on face value to be the best, however, local hosting could have its advantages, especially as Merseyworld has a high profile and is usually returned by most search engines. However, the site would have to reduce in size. Perhaps this might not be such a bad thing. There are corners of the site where I sometimes seldom venture! I would welcome some feedback on whether the site should have:

  1. Smaller capacity - faster complete turnover of content

  2. Higher capacity - slower turn over - around six months [or more] as at present.

E-mail your comments to


With recent problems it has been difficult keeping all the site visitors fully informed about changes and updates. Those visitors who call regularly and with whom I have corresponded, most of your e-mail addresses are stored on line and I can circulate information to you should the site go down, or problems arise. However, I know there are many others out there who I do not know of and who for reasons of privacy etc do not wish to complete the Visitors' Book. As a result regular visitors might like to register for site news using the following mail address please enter the heading SITE NEWS REQUEST

The purpose of this register is not to send out messages telling you that the site has been updated etc. But solely to inform visitors of technical problems etc. And enable me to keep YOU informed. Hopefully it will not be used very often! It would be useful even if regular visitors who I correspond with could also return the message with their current e-mail address as I know there are some visitors who have changed addresses and my information mailings to them have already been returned.


Click on enter SITE NEWS REQUEST on subject line. Please DO NOT forward any messages on this e-mail address - Thank You


There is no update scheduled for this Wednesday. However, there may be some service updates during the week should I regain full control of the site.

Now to this week's news!

John Luxton, July 12, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and Stuart Cameron.


THE PRINCESS ANNE and THE PRINCESS MARGARET, the soon to be withdrawn SRN4 hovercraft have now appeared for sale along with a host of spare parts on the Sea Containers web site.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Silja SeaCat Gothenburg - Frederikshavn service which is currently operated by SEACAT DANMARK will cease operations in August. English language information supplied to a correspondent recently only shows departures to August 7. This appears to confirm a message posted to the Yahoo Ferries in Focus Newsgroup which suggests that the service will end in August. 

SEACAT DANMARK - it is understood that SEACAT DANMARK is due to operate the Dover to Calais service this winter instead of one of the ex-Holyman Incats.


On July 13 P&O Irish Sea announced that it had reached an agreement on future pay deals with officials of NUMAST, the union that represents officers working on its vessels. 

The agreement provides for two pay increases over a 30 month period and improves pension arrangements for over 2/3 of the workforce.

Peter Donnelly, Personnel Director Of P&O Irish Sea commented:

"We have an agreement on pay on conditions for a 30 month period, which benefits all parties and enables both the Company and our Ships Officers to plan for the future."

The proposed industrial action planned by NUMAST for July (scheduled for July 18, 19, 25 and 26) has now been cancelled and all P&O Irish Sea services will run normally. In any event it is understood that due to different union agreements the SUPERSTAR EXPRESS would have been unaffected by industrial action.

At this stage it is unclear as to whether officers working for P&O North Sea Ferries and P&O Scottish Ferries have yet made similar pay agreements. It had been stated that on the North Sea routes industrial action may take place on July 20, 21, 28 and 29 whilst the Scottish services could be hit on July 20 and 27.

EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY - P&O's newest ship was due to commence her voyage home from the builders on Saturday July 15, 2000 at 08:00 Japan time under the command of Captain Jim McMullan. As with the "Voyage Home" of Irish Ferries JONATHAN SWIFT in 1999 it will be possible to track the progress of the vessel at the P&O Irish Sea website:


Stena Line has become the first ferry company on the Irish Sea to receive the prestigious Hospitality Assured accreditation in recognition of its high standards of customer service aboard its passenger ferries.

Hospitality Assured is a quality marque developed by the Hotel and Catering International Management Association (HCIMA) - the 23,000 member-strong worldwide professional body for managers in the hospitality industry - to reward achievement of service excellence. 

Launched in 1998, the Hospitality Assured standard is awarded only to organisations in the hospitality and leisure sector which demonstrate delivery of the highest standards of service across all areas of their business.

Based on a system of self-assessment and individual on-site assessment by
independent experts, Hospitality Assured enabled Stena Line to measure the quality of its customer service, including the call centre, based in Ashford, Kent, against a checklist of 12 areas of best practice.

These included customer research, service delivery, business goals, training and resources to continually develop and enhance customer services. The self-assessment checklist identifies operational strengths and weaknesses and can be used as a diagnostic tool for further development by Stena Line.

The award applies to Stena Line routes between Fishguard and Rosslare,
Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire/Dublin, and Belfast and Stranraer.

Paul Piddock MHCIMA, head of onboard services for Stena Line's Fishguard to Rosslare route, said: 'We are delighted to receive this accreditation. Hospitality Assured is a long-term commitment to our customers and the most useful monitor for service excellence we have found. The standard's principles are easily communicated and understood by all of our staff. The shared values equip us with the flexibility that we need in this highly competitive market. There is no crystal ball to help us shape our business for the future, but a device which gets us close to the customer is most welcome.

'The best reward of all is the degree of ownership from all of our staff and
their participation is constant. So the award is clearly for their efforts and recognises their professionalism.'

Ian Griffith, director of Hospitality Assured, said: 'Stena Line's staff on the four Irish routes assessed for Hospitality Assured have demonstrated their very high commitment to customer service in everything they did and are to be congratulated on their fine achievement.'


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, flagship of the Cunard fleet paid a much hyped [over hyped!] visit to Merseyside on Thursday July 13 as part of her "Round Britain" cruise. This being her fifth visit in ten years. Her visit being the only major passenger ship call of the year [Excluding of course the COSTA CLASSICA which arrives in the autumn for major work at Cammell Laird.]

The morning of Thursday July 13 was somewhat overcast and cloudy with periods of misty drizzle. I made my way down to the King's Dock area over looking the river. Through the mist the QE2's bulk was briefly visible beyond the groyne at New Brighton. A thinning of the cloud cover made her visible again and she was escorted up the River Mersey by the Howard Smith tug TRAFALGAR which performed the customary fire monitor salute and the preserved tug GOLDEN CROSS which is sponsored by Cunard and had the distinction of handling the original QUEEN ELIZABETH and the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2. 

The QE2 anchored mid-river around 08:00 with passengers being tendered ashore by ferry. 

Her departure in the evening was somewhat delayed. Originally scheduled for 18:00 according to notices displayed by the GOLDEN CROSS during the previous week she did not actually depart until 19:20. Comms traffic revealed that some passengers boarding the QE2 had boarded the service ferry by mistake!

When the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 finally departed quite a large number of people had gathered both at the Pier Head and on the Wallasey side of the river. She sailed down river accompanied by GOLDEN CROSS and TRAFALGAR. 

GOLDEN CROSS did not return to the Canning Half Tide basin after the departure but was noted at West Langton on Friday afternoon. 

A QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 photo feature will be posted when the web site is properly functional again.

The QUEEN ELIZABETH 2's master Captain Ron Warwick stated in the local press that he would like to bring the proposed QUEEN MARY 2 to Merseyside when she enters service.


ISLE OF INISHMORE - In failing light on the evening of July 12,  Holyhead Coastguard is co-ordinated a Search and Rescue operation for a 42 year old Dublin man thought to be missing overboard.

Irish Ferries reported to the Coastguard that they were missing one foot-passenger when the ferry arrived at Dublin from Holyhead after 19:00. Enquiries showed that the man had last been seen onboard by another passenger at around 16:25.

Holyhead Coastguard tasked the rescue helicopter from RAF Valley to carry out a search of an area covering in excess of 7 square miles; now completed the rescue helicopter is making use of the last minutes of light to search the route taken by the ferry.


On Friday July 14 another Irish tuna fishing boat has been arrested by the Irish Navy, the fourth such arrest in recent weeks. The vessel, the GOLDEN FEATHER, was escorted into Cork Harbour. 

Fishermen's organisations have said today's arrest was further evidence that Irish boats were being targeted by the INS to force them out of drift netting. The Minister for Defence denied that the Navy was being over-zealous in its actions against Irish fishermen, or that it had been instructed to harass Irish boats to force them out of drift-netting.



There are two ABP ports in Scotland - Ayr and Troon. The former, which is the oldest port on the west coast of Scotland - has seen big changes in recent years shipping has been totally removed from the south side of the harbour - with one notable exception. It was mainly renowned for the once great fishing fleet but the fishmarket has been demolished (replaced by a new one at Troon) and an enormous number of riverside flats are lining the old quays and the once famous Ayr shipyard. In its heyday it was operated by Samuel McKnight and produced many fine paddle steamers for the UK excursion and ferry fleets. Later it was operated by Ailsa of Troon. Port operations at Ayr are now concentrated in the north basin and a short section of the north wall on the River Ayr but ABP have invested quite heavily on bulk handling and warehouse facilities. The 'notable exception' maintaining the shipping presence on the south side of the harbour is Waverley. Sadly, the paddler will only sail from Ayr on 3 days this year (August 21-23 ) and she will find a very different Compass Quay from the one that she left last year as the flats now encroach on her berth.

Troon, on the other hand is booming. It is now the main fishing harbour on the Clyde with a new fish market built adjacent to the inner harbour. SeaCat has taken over the berth inside the breakwater for their Belfast service and P&O intend to transfer their freight service from the Clydeport run Ardrossan to Troon in the near future. This will see the redevelopment of a part of the harbour that has been closed since the demise of the one famous West of Scotland Shipbreaking Company. Among the last ships to be demolished there was the Mac mailboat Loch Seaforth and the majestic Clyde flagship turbine steamer Duchess of Hamilton. The remainder of the harbour is occupied by the renascent Ailsa shipyard. It has been gaining in strength over recent years and is confident of long term development despite the shortfalls looming in the short term.

MOD Ferries Contract

This contract has been the subject of much Scottish press space for almost a year since Kvaerner Industrier announced their withdrawal from shipbuilding. That was a big reversal of the trend in the previous 10 years when Kvaerner expanded rapidly (some say too rapidly) in shipbuilding to own a significant amount of European capacity. This threatened the future of the 135 year old Govan shipyard (virtually rebuilt for modular shipbuilding since 1989 by Kvaerner). Unlike Cammell Laird, the name of this famous shipbuilding yard was lost in the late 1960s. It was most famous as the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company. Its founder, John Elder, made many marine innovations and is credited with inventing the compound steam engine. His father David Elder, was involved through association with Robert Napier, in the specification and building of the first Cunard liners and his brother, Alexander, was co-founder of the once great' but recently demised' Elder Dempster line.

The Fairfield yard is now owned by BAE Systems and is building one of the two fleet auxiliary oil tankers originally assigned to BAE Systems Barrow yard. Problems arose in the timing of that contract and BAE acquired the lease of Govan (Clydeport purchased the yard from Kvaerner) transferring the order for the second tanker to Govan. Work on it has progressed very well and it is due to enter the water not long after the first ship at Barrow in the autumn. Scottish press state that BAE management have been most impressed by the way the Govan workforce have 'turned round' the contact and are anxious to reward them with further work. At present the workload runs out in the autumn. BAE Systems are partners in Sealion, one of the contenders for the 'MOD ferries' contract. However, it has recently been announced that BAE Govan (a separate operating subsidiary) have also been asked by Maersk to tender for the vessels and some indication that the other tenderers - including Andrew Weir have also asked Govan to tender.

The Trade & Industry Minister Steven Byers visited the Scottish Grand Committee in Glasgow today (10/7/00) and announced a shipbuilding summit meeting to be held on Thursday. (13/7/00). The emphasis is to be a strategy to retain and grow of the remaining UK shipbuilding capacity. He said that there is a 'once in a generation opportunity' to secure the future of British shipbuilding as the government was about to embark on the ' largest naval building programme ever' (presumably in terms of value rather than number of ships). These include:

The 'MOD ferries' which are either six or four in number depending on which newspaper is consulted. In fact I think 6 ships are included in the service contract but this involves only 4 new builds as 2 already exist

Two new 'logistics' type ships to replace some of the existing 'SIR' class vessels

30+ new Type 45 destroyers to replace the Sheffield class, Type 22 frigates and Type 23 frigates over the next 15 -20 years BAE Systems at Scotstoun (ex Yarrows) have the design contract and are expected to be awarded the contract for the first ship in the next 1 - 2 years. BAE are thought to be considering reorganising the facilities at Govan and Scotstoun into a state of art surface warship facility to compete for destroyers, frigates, etc on a world wide basis

Two new super aircraft carriers to replace the Invincible class (from 2010 onwards)

It is likely that the first stages of this work at least will be shared out to ensure no major problems in advance of the next General Election - after which - who knows? As an impressive show that shipbuilding still has a large public support - the Govan shop stewards and MPs recently handed over a public petition to Tony Blair in Downing Street supporting the retention of Govan. Although the yard workforce is down to about 800 from 8000 in its heyday the petition attracted 80,000 signatures - a lot more than New Labour's lead over the Scottish National Party in the Govan Constituency!

 CalMac Ferry Overhauls

A significant feature of last winter was the almost total absence of the Calmac fleet from the ship repair yards at Greenock and Ailsa, Troon. Most of the vessels went to A&P on Tyneside with one ship going to Birkenhead That was felt acutely at the Garvel Drydock which also narrowly lost out on the Waverley rebuild contract. The Garvel yard has been quiet for almost a year. In addition its parent company, the diversified industrial services group Semple Cochrane plc has suffered some serious boardroom problems, despite which significant investment in new plant seems to have continued in an effort to make the yard more competitive. Semple Cochrane are now under new management and the coming winter will prove an interesting test on whether the Calmac fleet will return to the Clyde for its main overhaul schedule. That may be a bit academic as the CalMac operation will be split asunder by the time of the 2001-02 winter overhaul season . Although it is proposed to for a 'New CalMac' company to own and lease the fleet (ultimately they are owned by the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament who holds the shareholding of Caledonian MacBraynne) everything seems very uncertain at present

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Welcome to the latest M&ISS News Update. At present the web site difficulties have still not yet been resolved. However, City Netgates have informed me that the site will be transferred to a new server within the next few days which hopefully will resolve the present difficulties and allow full updates to take place. 

John Luxton

July 12, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan and "others"


SUPERSEACAT THREE - it is reported that SSC3 managed to suck some debris into one of her water jets during the  18:00 Liverpool   - Douglas sailing on Saturday July 6. Attempts to remove it took 30 minutes and included going astern at full speed in the middle of the Irish Sea

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN The  07:00 Douglas to Liverpool and 10:30 Liverpool to Douglas were on Monday July 10, due to adverse weather conditions in Irish Sea.

On July 10 the company issued a press release promoting the new Heysham to Douglas SeaCat service:

For the first time passengers travelling from the Lancashire port of Heysham can get to the Isle of Man in just two hours. The fastest crossing ever has been made possible with the introduction of the first ever fast ferry sailings from Heysham throughout the Summer months.

The new sailings to and from Heysham are ideal for short breaks. The location of Heysham and its proximity to the M6 motorway also make it the ideal choice for travellers heading to the Isle of Man from Scotland, Cumbria, the North East and Yorkshire.

Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Containers' Irish Sea Operations said: "Our fast ferry service from Heysham to the Isle of Man offers greater choice than ever before. We now have SeaCat and SuperSeaCat services to the Isle of Man from Heysham and Liverpool, linked to the twice daily sailings of our new conventional ferry MV Ben-my-Chree. The Island has so much to offer visitors and we feel our sailing programme this year makes it even easier for people to discover or re-discover this magical island. Our recent launch of a SuperSeaCat fast ferry service to Belfast linked to our fast growing Isle of Man services has once again established Heysham as a major passenger port. This combined with the burgeoning Irish Sea freight services through the port from Warrenpoint, Dublin, Belfast and the Isle of Man has revitalised the Lancashire port and brought real benefits to the local economy."

Captain Graham MacLean, General Manager of Heysham Port went on to add: "Heysham has never been busier and this new service builds on the 14 ferry sailings a day we already have from the Port. New business is always welcome at Heysham, especially when it involves fast ferries with fast turnarounds offering additional services on established routes. Traditionally Liverpool has always provide the fast craft route to the Isle of Man, now with a SeaCat from Heysham, customer choice has never been greater. The SeaCat also cuts the journey time to the Island significantly compared with conventional vessels. From a personal point of view I am particularly pleased to see the arrival of the "SeaCat Isle of Man" catamaran as I captained her sister ship "SeaCat Scotland" before taking up my present job ashore here as Heysham Port's General Manager."

Heysham remains ideally placed for vehicle drivers and their passengers being only 6 miles from the UK motorway network. The Port is also accessible by train and coach.

Mondays and Fridays only until 22 September 2000.
Depart Heysham: 16:45 Arrive Douglas: 18:45
Depart Douglas: 14:00 Arrive Heysham: 16:00

Between 22 July and 2 September an additional sailing will operate on Saturdays at the same times as stated above.

Best value Summer Fares:
Vehicle - £159 for Car + 2 Summer Time Short Break Special.
Foot Passengers - £19 Adult Single Footloose fare (£38 Return fare).
The flexibility of our crossings to and from the Isle of Man mean that passengers can return or make their outward journey via our Liverpool services if they so wish.


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for June 2000 show a 15.5% increase on the same period last year. June 2000 recording a total of 109,423 compared to 94,707 in June 1999.

The year to date figure of 283,832 passengers shows an 11.3% increase over the 255,116 recorded in 1999.

Car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour in June 2000 showed an increase of 5.4% from 35,888, 1999 to 37,818 vehicles  June 2000.

The year to date figure of 83,519 vehicles shows a 11.7% increase over the 74,800 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:




plus 20%




minus 20%




all plus




plus 3%




plus 15%




all plus




all plus




all plus



Freight traffic metreage increased by 13.3% from 29,778m  to 33,731 when compared to June 1999.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "The June passenger figures at 109, 423 is the highest monthly total through Douglas Harbour since August 1988. The exceptionally high monthly passenger figure is the result of the introduction of additional fast craft capacity in the form of SUPERSEACAT THREE offering more day trip opportunities to and from Liverpool. The short series of day trips by the LADY OF MANN also proved very popular with the reintroduction of services to Warrenpoint, and for the first time in over 70 years, Whitehaven along side the ever popular Fleetwood and Llandudno services."


Some weeks ago the dock company published plans for the redevelopment of a large area of dockland around the Salisbury, Stanley, Clarence and Trafalgar Dock areas. From the material published the plans appeared to protect much of the area's industrial and maritime heritage whilst making use of the dockland site for residential, commercial and leisure use, very much along the lines of what has been achieved at the Albert Dock, south of the Pier Head. 

However a cloud has appeared on the horizon in the form or Mrs. Lorraine Mackarel. M&ISS readers will probably be familiar with this lady's name by now. She lives in the Waterloo Warehouses and has been very much a thorn in the side of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company's development plans. 

To date she has,, in conjunction with other organisations, opposed the original plans for developing an improved terminal for Sea Containers services at the Pier Head, opposed plans for a convenient on-river terminal for Irish ro/ro services at Trafalgar Dock adjacent to the former B&I terminal and only the other week announced her opposition to the revised plans for the Pier Head Terminal! Now she trying to "put a spanner in the works" when it comes to redeveloping the redundant docks as the Liverpool Echo reported earlier this week: 

"PIER Head campaigners are challenging a £200m docklands scheme. Mersey Dock and Harbour Company has applied for the plot for the proposed development between Collingwood and Canada docks to be registered at Land Registry.

The company has unveiled a plan for apartments, a hotel, watersports centre and shopping plaza.

Lorraine Mackarel, who leads the fight against Pier Head redevelopment proposals, has questioned who owns the land.

She has applied a "caution" on the land through the Registry. This effectively means it cannot be registered unless outstanding issues are resolved.

Mrs Mackarel says she is not acting out of malice but to preserve "public" land being transformed into an asset for a private company.

She said: "This is an important issue but the authorities, including the council, appear happy to let
Mersey Docks reap the benefits from land it does not own."

No-one from the MD&HC was available to comment. However, a letter to Mrs. Mackarel states: "The land was acquired by the company's predecessors between 1806 and 1851."

JHL'S COMMENT: It appears that Mrs. Mackerel appears to take great pleasure in frustrating the plans of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and, as with the case of her opposition to other developments, always claims to be operating in the public interest.  She appears to consider every waterfront development to be a retrograde step one wonder's if she might have been better choosing to live somewhere far away from the Mersey and its Docklands. Here is a chance to improve the local environment, preserve historic buildings, afford greater public access, provide new housing, leisure facilities and greater prospects for local employment and of course Mrs. Mackerel has to find a reason to oppose it. Whilst I would generally refrain from the expression "Get a Life!" I think this lady should find something constructive to do than be a perpetual complainer and protestor.


Talks are due to take place this week, following breakdown of earlier discussions on pay offers. Irish routes are under threat on July 18, 19, 25 and 26, while the North Sea routes' action could be on July 20, 21, 28 and 29. The Scottish services could be hit on July 20 and 27.

However, it was reported that P&O was hopeful that its services from Larne to Cairnryan would not be affected by a threatened industrial dispute.

NUMAST, the union that represents ships' officers, is proposing to stage a number of 24-hour strikes later this month in a bid to secure a better pay offer.

Last month the union held a ballot among its members, who work on the
company's conventional ferries, and received a mandate for a programme of
industrial action.



Irish Ferries have released photographs of the ULYSSES which is currently under construction at Finn Yards. This impressive vessel will enter service between Dublin and Holyhead in 2001. This stern three quarters view captures something of the vessel's scale.


On Monday July 10 2000 it was announced that Stena Line has ordered up to two ro-pax vessels from Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea, in what is a breakthrough order for the world's largest shipbuilder and a potential stepping-stone into the lucrative cruise new building sector. However, some see the order as a further ingress by South Korea's shipbuilding industry into a sector hitherto seen as the domain of Europe's embattled yards. 

Gothenburg-based Stena is said to be paying $70m per vessel under the contract, which is for one firm ship plus one option. Destined for operation by Stena Ro-Ro the ships are earmarked to emerge from  Hyundai Heavy Industries' Ulsan shipbuilding complex in 2002 and 2003.

 Stena's new vessel will have an overall length of 163 m and a beam of 28.7 m. Accommodation will be provided for  900 passengers, while the design will offers, 400-lane metres for the carriage of commercial and passenger vehicles. This is Stena's first order from Hyundai for 20 years and follows recent bad experiences with orders from Spanish and Italian yards.


The six part TV series "Ferry Tales" commences on BBC1 at 23:20 on Thursday July 13. 


 Cammell Laird Holdings PLC, the international marine services company, announced preliminary results for the year ended 30 April 2000 on July 11.

The results revealed continuing strong growth with pre-tax profits (before amortisation) up 54% to £16.6 million (1999: £10.8m). Turnover had increased by 26% at £138.5m. Earnings per share up 31% to 4.6p (1999: 3.5p). The final dividend will be 0.5p per share (1999: 0.4p) which gives  a total dividend of 0.75p, 25% increase on last year. 

The operational highlights of the past year included:  

Strategy of expansion into Europe and the United States 'kick started' with two major announcements: - Long-term agreement signed with the Port of Marseilles and acquisition of local ship repair company.

Heads of agreement signed with Cascade General Inc, based in Portland Oregon  All existing businesses showed growth in both activity and profitability.

The four Group acquisitions made this year progressing well Juan Kelly, Chairman of Cammell Laird, comments: 'The prospects for the Group remain very positive. Our core markets of commercial, offshore and military are all indicating strong growth prospects. This together with our increased international capacity and capability provides us with a high level of optimism.' 

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Web site problems unfortunately continue. It has been possible to gain access to the site again using an FTP program which has enabled the news pages to be updated and add some new material last Monday evening July 3 which you may have missed. - Please check "What's New" for details.

However, I am very reluctant to use the FTP transfer method as it operates outside of the Front Page 2000 environment. I have reason to believe, that if used extensively to update a Front Page site that it can damage the navigation structure and render Front Page extensions installed on pages inoperative. You may notice that some page counters have reverted to 1 and will not update when you revisit the page. These are pages which have been updated by FTP.

Consequently this week I am only going to update the news pages to avoid damaging the rest of the site, most of which appears to be working fine at present. Further contact with City Netgates has revealed that they do have a problem! The person responsible for the server on which M&ISS is hosted has told me that they are going to rebuild the server and has assured me that things will work correctly eventually.

How long this will be I do not know. However, I am prepared, at present, to give City Netgates until around middle of August to resolve the problems. This will allow me adequate time to sit at the computer whilst at home during the holidays whilst I am able to consult with Netgates. It is difficult trying to resolve problems away from the computer during a normal working week..

However, should the problem not be resolved to my satisfaction I will have to seek a new home for the site before the end of the summer holidays. 

Please note the update schedule for August has been posted. The next news update will be Wednesday July 12, 2000.

John Luxton 

July 9, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, David Roberts, John Williams, Brian Chambers and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

THE PRINCESS ANNE / THE PRINCESS MARGARET the world's last remaining commercial vehicle carrying hovercraft are to be withdrawn from service this autumn.

THE PRINCESS MARGARET [1968] and THE PRINCESS ANNE [1969] are the last surviving operational examples of the Mountbatten Class SRN4 Hovercraft, which operated for British Railways and Hoverlloyd..

The two surviving craft were originally built for British Railways and subsequently found themselves in the combined Hoverspeed fleet when British Railways and Hoverlloyd merged their cross channel hovercraft interests. In 1984 British Railways and the Hoverlloyd proprietors sold Hoverspeed for a nominal sum to the Hoverspeed directors. Two years later Hoverspeed was sold to Sea Containers who were already investigating the use of high-speed ferries.

The two hovercraft provide the fastest channel crossings with a Dover to Calais journey taking just 35 minutes.

At over 56m in length, the SRN4 are the largest hovercraft in the world and can carry 360 passengers and 50 cars

The craft have a top speed of 60 knots being powered by four Rolls Royce Marine Proteus engines which develop 48,000lbs of thrust.

THE PRINCESS ANNE holds the record for the fastest ever crossing of the English Channel - just 22 minutes between Calais and Dover on 14 September 1995

The hovercraft will be replaced by additional SeaCats deployed on the route, which though slower have a higher passenger and vehicle capacity. According to a report in the Guardian, the company hopes to find purchasers for the craft rather than scrap them. The withdrawal of the hovercraft will unfortunately lead to some job losses.

With the hovercraft off the channel in 2001 it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on Sea Container's fleet deployment plans and whether there will be any consequences for the Irish Sea routes. 

LADY OF MANN - Further to the departure of the LADY OF MANN to the Azores for the summer, Geoff Hamer writes:

 "Some details of AcorLine are under under "ligacoes
maritimos".  The site also has general tourist information on the Azores.
AcorLine is partly owned by the Madeira company who first used the "LADY" to begin the Porto Santo Line, now run by the LOBO MARINHO.  

Last year, AcorLine bought the GOLFINHO AZUL, previously the OURANOS of Fragline (she ran from Harwich in 1970-74 as the PRINZ HAMLET II) and for the peak season chartered the BAJAMAR from Fred. Olsen.  The web site includes schedules for the GOLFINHO AZUL and for the second ship which is named CACHALOTE, but I can't see any clue as to whether they're this year's schedules or, as I suspect, last summer's.  Neither the BAJAMAR nor the LADY OF MANN has actually been renamed CACHALOTE.  The schedules do give an indication of the services operated, with journey times varying from 40 mins to 6 hours. 

Last time, there was a daft story in the UK that the "LADY" was chartered
for whale-watching cruises - something for which she would, of course, be
far too big and totally unsuitable.

Last Friday's newspaper report said the company could be fined for the late start of the "LADY".  The service is operated under some sort of franchise from the Regional Government of the Azores.  The fine could be 1000 "contos" a day. [ 1 Conto = 1000 Escudos around £3.25] I don't know how much of the delay can be blamed on Sea Containers, but it would have been almost impossible for the LADY to have entered service on the 20th, given that the voyage from Liverpool took three days. "


Some months ago the sale of STENA CHALLENGER to the Canadian operator Marine Atlantic was announced. I have received some clip art revealing how the vessel will appear when in Marine Atlantic livery.


The BBC have confirmed that the Documentary "Death In The Bay" which examines the HMS THETIS disaster is to be screened nationally on BBC 2 on Tuesday 29th August at 7.30 PM in a series under the banner 'Home Ground'.


Acquisition of IMARI LIMITED - Irish based Logistics and Port Services Group has strengthened MDHC's position as Irish Sea Terminal operators.

MDHC announced on Wednesday July 5, 2000 that it had acquired the whole of the issued share capital of Imari Limited, an Irish based logistics and port services group for IR£20 million.

Imari is incorporated in the Republic of Ireland and is the holding company for companies operating in logistics and port services. The operating companies in the Logistics Division of Imari are: Roadferry Ltd., which operates in the door-to-door day freight, unit load market between the UK and Ireland; Link Transport Services Ltd., which operates a contract distribution and transport business in Northern Ireland; Tank Trans Limited, which operates a specialist bulk liquid/powder service throughout the UK and Ireland and in which the P&O Group has a 49% interest; Eco-Trans Ltd., which is involved in environmental waste management; Tankspeed Ltd., which operates a tanker service between the UK and continental Europe; and Teca GmbH, a well established freight forwarder based at Moers near Dusseldorf.

The Port Services Division of Imari comprises Marine Terminals Ltd., which operates a container terminal in Dublin Port, and in which MDHC already has a 50% interest; and Dublin Container and Transport Services Ltd., which is
involved in the storage, repair and cleaning of containers and the manufacturing of steel accommodation units.

IR£ 17.5 million in cash and IR£ 2.5 million of MDHC loan notes have satisfied the consideration of IR£ 20 million (£16.1 million). MDHC is also assuming net debt in Imari of approximately IR£ 3.0 million. The net assets of Imari being acquired by MDHC are estimated at IR£ 10.5 million, and operating profit from the continuing operations of Imari being purchased amounted to IR£ 2.24 million for the year ended 31st December 1999.

The acquisition of Imari allows MDHC to consolidate its ownership of Marine Terminals, which operates a container terminal on the South Bank of Dublin Port, and reinforces MDHC's position as terminal owners and operators on the Irish Sea. It also extends MDHC's interests in logistics activities in the UK and Irish Markets, complementing and strengthening existing ventures within the Group's Shipping Division.

Ted O'Neill, the Chief Executive of Imari, will join the executive committee of MDHC to continue to pursue the strategic development of the Imari businesses.


On Thursday evening July 6, 2000 the Fleetwood lifeboat and a Police Helicopter were launched after the Fleetwood - Knott End passenger ferry was stolen from its berth at Fleetwood.

Coastguards alerted police after spotting the 40ft ferry, which links Fleetwood and Knott End in Lancashire, sailing across the Wyre estuary shortly after midnight.

A man jumped from the vessel in the quarter-mile wide estuary and was seen swimming back towards Fleetwood, from where the ferry had been taken.

He was subsequently arrested and taken to Fleetwood Police Station to be questioned over the incident.

Coastguards recovered the ferry, which had suffered some minor damage as a result of the incident.


FRANÇOISE - The new freight service ship operating the Rosslare to Brest service will return to Rosslare Europort in about 3 weeks time. The vessel failed herself in the narrow part of Brest harbour and is gone to dry dock. The vessel will be inspected by the Irish Department of Agriculture whilst in the dry dock. Photographs of the FRANÇOISE can be found on Brian Chamber's Rosslare Europort Website which you are recommended to visit:


ISLE OF INNISFREE Brian Chambers writes that the vessel was late arriving at Rosslare Europort on Monday July 3, 2000. ISLE OF INNISFREE arrived at 20:40 due to a technical problem. Irish Rail staff were on hand at the head of the quay wall to take in lines from the bow of the ship, using her winches, along with the Irish Rail staff moving the lines from bollard to bollard, the vessel slowly moved down along the quay wall, after 30 minutes the ship was secure at her No 1 Berth, good work by the Irish Ferries crew and Captain, and the Irish Rail staff on the quay wall, the wind was light from the South East, and the sea was very calm, at 21:30 hrs foot passengers, cars, coaches, and freight started to unload, all cars, and freight booked for the sailing back to Pembroke Dock in South Wales were re-booked to go on the Stena Line Ferry, the "KONINGIN BEATRIX", because of the big load the vessel was late leaving for Fishguard, the ship departed at 23:10 from her No 3 Berth.

ISLE OF INNISFREE returned to the Rosslare - Pembroke service on the Tuesday morning departure [July 4, 2000] from Rosslare. She was noted arriving back at Rosslare on schedule at 19:30 hours that evening.


It was reported in the press that the CBI in Northern Ireland has expressed disappointment at the interim decision of the regional development committee to favour a restructured trust port status for the Port of Belfast rather than a public/private partnership.

Director Nigel Smyth said: "Our members will be very disappointed with the interim conclusion of the committee. We disagree with the committee's decision. Our members favour a public/private partnership for the Port of Belfast, believing this option will be in the best interests of the port, port users and the NI economy as a whole".


Upholder class submarine HMS UNSEEN which entered Cammell Lairds for work to be undertaken prior to its delivery to the Canadian Navy will be renamed VICTORIA before it departs from Lairds.


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 - US coastguard authorities are investigating an incident in which the QE2 "grazed" a Japanese warship in New York's Hudson River.

The warship KASHIMA in turn hit the Royal Navy warship HMS MANCHESTER.

There were about 1,700 people on board the QE2. No one was hurt and damage on the Cunard liner and the KASHIMA was confined to some paint scraping.

There was also some paint scraping and some bent metal on the Manchester. All three vessels had been taking part in the US Independence Day festivities.

"There was a strong ebb tide and the QE2 was just swinging around into its berthing position with two tugs on its stern," said a Cunard spokesman.

He added: "The rope to one of the tugs severed and the stern swung around slightly and grazed one of the Japanese warships.

"There were slight scratches on the stern of the QE2 but I don't think most of the passengers on board even realised anything had happened. As far as repairs go, it is just a paint job."

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 is due to arrive on Merseyside on Thursday July 13 at around 08:00. She will be escorted to her river berth by the historic tug GOLDEN CROSS. The GOLDEN CROSS will also escort the liner out of the river at 18:00 the same day.


On July 7, 2000 it was announced that Cammell Laird Holdings, the UK shipyard, had signed a deal to lease three docks at Marseilles in the south of France, including the biggest repair facility in Europe.

The deal, which also includes buying the port's main repair company, gives Cammell Laird access to one of the biggest yards in the world - more than three times the size of their largest in the UK. The new super dock - five football pitches long by one pitch-length wide - is able to handle the world's heaviest ships, up to 500,000 tonnes.

The port is also ideally placed to tap into the growing Mediterranean cruise and West African deep-sea oil markets.

Juan Kelly, chairman of Cammell Laird, said: "This move into Europe is strategically important for Cammell Laird and marks the first major step towards the globalisation of the group." The 20-year lease will cost an annual rent of FF5m ($723,000) plus 1 per cent of sales for the first four years, and FF15m plus 1 per cent of sales from 2004. The company paid just under £1m ($1.5m) to buy Compagnie Marseillaise de Reparation, which has sales of more than £12m and 150 workers. The yard will be renamed Cammell Laird Marseille.

Cammell Laird will also take on most of the 105 workers at another port repair company currently in receivership, Marine Technologies. MT's workers will undertake 10 months training financed by the French government.

The deal gives Cammell Laird immediate access to facilities worth between £200m and £300m to build new - for little risk - said Brett Martin, Cammell Laird chief executive. "The facilities themselves are tremendous and open up a much bigger market because then can work on much bigger vessels than the UK," he said.

"Also the location is very good. Some of the biggest and deepest finds of oil are taking place off the West Africa coast; Marseille with it's historical links with West Africa is ideally located for that. Also French companies are hugely involved in those West African fields. Then it's also a good location for cruise ships."

The Marseilles contract is another step in the recovery of the Merseyside-based shipyard, since it was bought and reopened in 1995. Cammell Laird is also understood to be looking at similar deals in the US, northern Europe, possibly around the Baltic, and Bulgaria, on the Black Sea.


A report in the Belfast Telegraph this week indicates that Harland and Wolff is expected to hear within the next three weeks if it has won a share of a £240m Ministry of Defence contract.

At present four consortiums are bidding for the lucrative "Strategic Sealift Service" contract for the MOD one of which includes a Maersk/Cammell Laird bid.

Harland and Wolff is a component of two of the consortiums bidding for the contract - Andrew Weir Shipping and Novomar.

The Belfast yard had declined an offer from the Maersk Company to join their consortium for the bid.

The MOD contract - which would span 20 years - is to provide six roll-on, roll-off ferries to the Ministry for military operations.

Four of the vessels would be permanently used by the MOD and two would be used for commercial purposes but available for call-out when required.

The closing date for tenders for the contract, which will sustain hundreds of shipbuilding jobs was July 8, 2000.

The MOD contract is being hailed as a vital lifeline for UK shipyards - there had been controversy earlier this year when it emerged that the six vessels could be built abroad because European yards were offering lower prices.

Harland and Wolff will also be up against BAe Systems of Govan in the bid to win the MOD contract.

It is understood the Government's Defence Procurement Agency plans to announce the preferred bidder for the Strategic Sealift contract by the end of July.

The formal shipbuilding contract for the six vessels is expected to be placed by the end of the year.


Black box recorders should be fitted to all new commercial ships worldwide, John Lang, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, said this week.

Publishing the annual report of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), on July 4, Mr Lang said a Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) can provide vital information in investigating accidents. He went on to criticise
foreign flag states who continually refuse to install them on ships.

Mr Lang said:

"The continued failure to install VDRs in ships, and the implacable refusal by some flag states to even countenance fitting them on economic grounds continues to hamper investigations.

"I have argued repeatedly for VDRs to be a standard fit on all new vessels. Until they are, marine accident investigators the world over will be denied the opportunity to identify the main and underlying causes of whatever occurred.

He added: "I most strongly recommend that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) takes the necessary measures, without delay, to ensure VDRs can be fitted in all new construction vessels.

"While recognising that such recorders can never provide all the answers, I am in no doubt that until they are fitted to all commercial vessels and, arguably, to fishing vessels as well, we will never identify many of the reasons why accidents happen at sea."

Mr Lang pointed to human error as the main cause of accidents at sea. The most frequent problems were:

* failure to keep a proper lookout;

* the lack of a team approach to crisis management;

* the failure to consider the consequences of taking 'a short cut'
during a routine operation.

He also said fatigue remains one of the most endemic problems, especially in the short sea trade. Many ships operating around UK coasts are manned by watch keepers who are dangerously tired, he

Mr Lang continued:

"I have become increasingly concerned by the relentless increase in the workload of some masters and chief officers. This is most pronounced in vessels where, once again, manning levels have been reduced. Too often we find they are very, very tired."

The MAIB report also said:

* nine fishermen lost their lives during 1999, compared to 26 in 1998;

* those in the fishing industry should do more to promote safety awareness and develop a positive safety culture;

* a surprisingly high percentage of fishermen seem to have little concept of basic ship stability;

* the most prominent fishing vessel investigation in 1999 was that into the sinking of the beam trawler Margaretha Maria, with the loss of four lives. The MAIB recommended a study into the stability of beam trawlers;

* many fishermen still do not wear lifejackets.


CELTIC SUN - on the evening of July 5, 2000 HM Coastguard and the Irish Coastguard launched a search for a missing 40 year old Ukrainian crew member from the ro-ro ferry CELTIC SUN which was on its evening sailing Liverpool to Dublin.

The missing man was reported to the authorities when the vessel docked at Dublin and the crewmember was found to be absent. His passport and clothing were still in his cabin and he was last seen at 19:30; 7.5 miles NE of Point Linas at Anglesey making a phone call from the bridge.

In the light of the evidence available the situation was declared a possible man overboard, and the Dublin Maritime Rescue Co-ordination centre scrambled an Irish Coastguard rescue helicopter to begin searching a reciprocal course of the ferry all the way from Dublin to Anglesey. In the meantime, Holyhead Coastguard began broadcasting local pan pan messages advising anyone in the vicinity to keep a close watch out for the man in water.

In the event, nothing was found and eventually the search was terminated. All trailers were searched when they disembarked at Dublin and again nothing was found. During the night whilst the search progressed winds were north easterly 3 - 4 with thick fog in the area.

EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY - Following a few delays the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY is now expected to go into service with the 08.00 Larne - Cairnryan service on 14 August.

The vessel is due to leave Japan within the next few weeks. Unofficial reports suggest that the vessel is most impressive and on trials was steaming for 15 hours at full ahead (26 knots ) all went better than expected and she is apparently very economical on fuel.

Due to the delay Mitsubishi are understood to be paying to allow the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY to sail at full speed on her delivery voyage.

Following covering for the refits of the EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR and EUROPEAN TRADER - the PRIDE OF RATHLIN is expected to be withdrawn around 14 September. Rumours have died down that she will receive SOLAS upgrades and again it seems likely she'll be sold to somewhere such as the Red Sea.


At 08:40 on the morning of July 6, Holyhead Coastguard were alerted to a 46 year old asthmatic woman suffering from chest pains whilst on board an angling vessel MY WAY which had sailed from Rhyl earlier in the day. The vessel was then 7 miles north of Rhyl and the woman kept passing out. The Coastguard immediately set up a medi-link call between the skipper of the vessel and an on-call doctor at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The doctor's advice to the Coastguard upon hearing of the woman's condition was to advise that she should be airlifted off the vessel immediately.

An RAF rescue helicopter R 122 Valley was immediately scrambled and the woman was airlifted to Glan Clwyd hospital at Bodelwyddan.

The weather on scene today is sunny, hazy, with no wind, and good visibility of 4 - 5 miles.


On Friday 30th June 2000, a tanker unloading Jet A1 fuel at the Petroplus Terminal, Milford Haven was detained by the MCA for 2 deficiencies related to the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.

M.T. Cerda is a Liberian registered, 105,116DWT Oil/Bulk/Ore (OBO). She is classed with Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) and has ISM certification issued by Det Norske Veritas (DnV).

The vessel is currently still under detention by the MCA and has 3 major non-conformities raised against her ISM Safety Management Certificate. The vessel has completed discharge and the cargo tanks are fully inerted.

The port state control inspection revealed 26 hardware deficiencies which highlighted poor maintenance of the ship and its equipment. A poor fire and abandon ship emergency drill showed a lack of emergency preparedness.

Following the detention, 2 RINA Surveyors and 2 DnV (ISM) auditors attended the vessel. Some hardware deficiencies have now been rectified whilst the remainder have to be rectified before the next port.

MCA Surveyor Elgan Lloyd said, following witnessing a 3rd engine room fire drill, 5 days after detention:

"There are still fundamental flaws in the command and control of the emergency parties, as evidenced by lack of co-ordination of the fire teams, firemen entering the engine room alone, and other persons entering without protective clothing and support equipment. As a result, the vessel remains detained at the berth until such time as these flaws can be rectified."

The vessel was last inspected at Narvik in Norway on 13/01/00 with 6 various deficiencies and prior to that, the vessel was inspected 6 times in Trieste, Italy between 1993 and 1998, with no deficiencies recorded."



Ten years after the first Incat 74m wave piercing car-carrying catamaran entered service, the nine craft of the class are still leading the way around the world. Although somewhat smaller than some of their newer counterparts these pioneers of the high speed car ferry industry are proving ideal for start-up routes.

Recently, CONDOR 10 (Incat 030) has completed the most extensive refit ever carried out on a 74m wavepiercer. All areas of the craft, from the hull to the wheelhouse have been inspected, reviewed and upgraded. No plate has been left unturned with the result that CONDOR 10 is now ready for another ten years of service.

Each year, every high-speed ferry undergoes an overhaul, normally carried out in yards close to their area of operation. As CONDOR 10 was en route from New Zealand to Europe it was decided that the overhaul would be carried out at her birthplace in Hobart. With this, the opportunity was taken to further upgrade the craft to ensure competitive resale or charter options should they become available.

The CONDOR 10 has now emerged "as new". The craft boasts a new interior décor throughout the passenger cabin, including new floor coverings, wall colours, new upholstery on seating, refurbishment of the kiosk and shop, upgraded lighting and a new children’s play area with mural. In addition, new passenger toilet facilities have been installed. A major plus is the reduction in weight on the craft. Much of the hull has been sandblasted to reduce weight and ongoing painting costs and the car deck has been sandblasted to the same standard as new Incat vessels. The structural fire protection and equipment on the car deck has also been upgraded in line with current regulations.

While at Hobart a Liferaft Systems Australia MES deployment using CONDOR 10 was staged for HRH Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Recently, CONDOR 10 was retrofitted with LSA liferafts and MES, bringing the craft right up to date with the very latest in evacuation technology and equipment.


A Manx correspondent has sent the following information:

In 1979 the replica Viking longboat "ODIN'S RAVEN" sailed from Trondheim to Peel to celebrate 1000 years of Tynwald (the Manx Parliament). "ODIN'S RAVEN" is now in the House of Mannanan in Peel.

This year the RIB (rigid inflatable boat) "MANX FERRETT" has made the 1800 mile journey in reverse under power. Two of the six strong crew were on the "ODIN'S RAVEN" for her 1979 voyage. Setting out from Peel on 24 June the boat reached Trondheim - just 80 miles south of the Arctic Circle - yesterday Friday 7 July. En route they had called at the Orkney and Shetland Islands before crossing the North Sea to Bergen and then going 700 miles up the Norwegian coast to Trondheim. Their average speed crossing the North Sea was 35 knots.

More information about the RIB challenge can be found on their website

Back Home Up Next

July 2



After two and a half weeks it was finally possible to gain access to the Mersey and Irish Sea Shipping Web site on Tuesday evening. I managed to correct most, though not all of the errors which had crept in on the site's transfer to its new home at City Netgates.

However, when I tried to undertake further work on Wednesday the remote server generated an error message which has prevented me from logging on and making further updates. This problem has not yet been resolved as I have been unable to get in touch with the person responsible for the server. Though I have been assured this problem will be passed on to the person concerned on Monday. As a result the main site update will not be posted until around 21:00 on  Monday evening [hopefully!]

Whilst the main site has been off, the e-mails have continued to arrive. Most have now been replied to, though there remains a backlog to be dealt with. If you have not yet received a reply to a message I will get back to you in the next few days. However, as you may realise my main priority has been to get the web site up and running again. 


To assist in sorting site related e-mail from private and other material a new mail box identity has been created for Mersey and Irish Sea Shipping. The new e-mail address is this appears on the page header menus etc. Please try and use this as it will assist in sorting my ever increasing amount of e-mail and ensuring prompter replies.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Hans Mauritz, Justin Merrigan, Geoff. Hamer and "others".

John Luxton 

July 2, 2000


Passenger traffic on Isle of Man routes has revealed a huge increase. Passenger figures for May at 64,489 show an increase of 8% over the 1999 figure of 56,019. Vehicle and Motorcycle traffic has increased by 38.5% to 16,782 [1999 - 12,117]. 

Commercial metreage increased by almost 23% to 37,643m [1999 - 30,611]. Freight traffic is at an all time high with the May figures being the highest for any month. Hamish Ross, Managing Director said:" Out TT carryings of inward traffic show an increase on last year's figures and we are continuing the month by month upward trend with our carryings in all areas of our operation."


The company is promoting inclusive day trips to the Isle of Man on Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer.

Passengers travel outwards from Liverpool on SEACAT ISLE OF MAN and return on SUPERSEACAT THREE. On Tuesdays the inclusive trip operates to Laxey, home of the famous Laxey Wheel. On Wednesdays the inclusive trip is to Tynwald Craft Village near St. Johns.

Passengers will be met by coach at the Douglas Sea Terminal for the excursion  which lasts around 3-4 hours. Both excursions are designed to allow plenty of time to explore Douglas, the Island's capital in the late afternoon.

Laxey Village.
Laxey is home to the world's largest water wheel, the "Lady Isabella." It is also the place to see Manx Tartan at the local woollen mills. You can also take a trip on the Snaefell Mountain Railway and view the island and across to England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Tynwald Craft Village.
A thriving centre for Manx crafts, located by Tynwald Hill, the very symbol of Manx independence. On the 5th of July every year Manx National Day is celebrated here and the Isle of Man Government assembles to proclaim the laws enacted over the previous year.

The inclusive fare is £27 with children [4-15] at £15. Infants are free. The Senior Citizens' fare is £22. This represents excellent value for money with the inclusive excursion costing just £2 more than the day return fare. 

Geoff Le Page from the Isle of Man Tourist Board said: "The Department of Tourism is delighted that the Steam Packet Company through its SeaCat and SuperSeaCat vessels is offering all-inclusive day visits to the Isle of Man. Laxey, home of the largest water wheel in the world, also has a pretty village and harbour. St John's offers excellent shopping at Tynwald Mills and visitors can also see Tynwald Hill, where the Manx Parliament was first established in AD979 by the Vikings."

Meanwhile, Dave Morgan, Marketing Manager for SuperSeaCat / Seacat added: "For the first time in many years passengers can now travel from Liverpool and the north west of England with ease thanks to our daily fast craft service. It means that throughout the Summer we are able to offer those people who have never been to the Island before or for those who haven't been back for many years, the opportunity to sample the Island's delights."


Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout July (excluding 11-13 July 2000) and August, Sea Containers will be running all inclusive day trips from Belfast to Scotland's largest theme park, Loudon Castle.

The park, which is located in Ayrshire, has long been a family favourite. Attractions include terrifying white knuckle rides and King Rory's Animal Kingdom.

Sailing on board SeaCat to Troon means that transfer times to and from the park are down to only 30 minutes, allowing passengers approximately 5 hours to enjoy the rides and attractions.

The all inclusive price of £20 per adult, £15 per senior citizen and £15 per child includes:-
* Return SeaCat crossing between Belfast and Troon;
* Complimentary children's activity packs onboard SeaCat, along with a video lounge;
* Coach transfers to and from the theme park;
* Entrance into Loudon Castle including rides (excluding Go-karts and Ponies).

Tickets can be booked through local travel agents or by calling SeaCat directly on 08705 523 523.

JHL's COMMENT: It is good to see good value day excursions being promoted by Sea Containers. However, there are probably many enthusiasts and others who would welcome the reinstatement of day return fares on the Liverpool route at least in the shoulder periods.

Not everyone who took advantage of the "flyer" fares bought large amounts of Duty Free, quite a number just enjoyed the there and back sail as a pleasant day out.

A reasonably priced "flyer" trip to Dublin would be welcomed by many. It would help fill up empty seats and whilst passengers would not be spending a large amount on Duty Free goods as in the past, they would still patronise the on-board retail outlets.  

Whilst no one could really justify the ludicrously cheap £10 flyers once offered, a return fare in the £20 to £25 bracket would be reasonable, with perhaps a family ticket for £55. What about it Sea Co? There are obvious safeguards which can be used to ensure that discounted day trips are not used as cheap singles.

LADY OF MANN departed from Cammell Laird bound for the Azores around 18:15 hours on Monday June 26. She is due to return late September.

Geoff Hamer writes that he has taken a look at one of the Azores newspapers ( which reports that the LADY OF MANN was due to start on 20 June, but was delayed by a week by the classification society.

She is due to make her first trip today on June 30 at 19:00, taking the GOLFINHO AZUL's schedule for the first week - the LADY was due to concentrate on the
central islands but will seemingly get to do some of the longer trips in
the next few days.  Geoff further comments that the story about the classification society sounds as though it's an excuse made up by Sea Containers - as she would have been pushed to start on the June 20  even if she'd gone straight from Douglas to
Ponta Delgada.


Sea Containers has launched a new web site aimed to market its ships sales and chartering services. 

The official sale and purchase, and charter web site for Sea Containers Chartering Ltd., provides detailed information on the company's vessels available for sale or charter.

The site was formulated in-house and designed by UK based communications agency FEREF Associates Ltd. It currently lists seven vessels from the Sea Containers fleet; ranging in type from freight ships to conventional and high speed passenger ferries. At a later stage the site is likely to expand and include vessels offered by other owners, depending on its initial success.

Visitors to the site can access full technical data on all the vessels listed and also view new illustrations and photographs of the craft. There are also easy links to pages on Sea Containers' own web site (, providing details on the company's entire vessel fleet.


Planning notices have been published in conjunction with the revised plans for the Liverpool Sea Terminal. Quite a few can be found tied to signs and lamp posts in the vicinity of the Pier Head.

Revised plans were drawn up earlier this year to satisfy the objections by the Millennium Walk Committee to the original proposals. The original plans  involved the removal of the "Memorial to the Engineers of The Marine Engine Room " to what was regarded by many sensible as a much more suitable and more prominent site actually on the river wall. The movement of the Memorial being the main focus of the objection.

Once again a collection of modern day maritime "Luddites" comprising the Millennium Walk Committee, Merseyside Pensioners Association, Friends of the Earth and Save our Cities have vowed to fight the proposals which have already been given the go ahead by Liverpool City Council,

The  campaigners are demanding a public inquiry into the decision and are also seeking a judicial review on the grounds that part of the land was dedicated to the public in 1871. 

JHL'S COMMENT: It is very unfortunate that a vociferous minority of people are jeopardizing the development of decent terminal facilities at the Pier Head. A survey conducted by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company showed that despite a low response, the overwhelming majority of people were in favour of the revised plans. Whilst the low response could be interpreted as not providing a true representation of all the people of Merseyside, the fact is in a democracy only the votes of those who bother to participate are counted and so it should be the case over the Sea Terminal proposals.


On Thursday evening, June 29, the committee overseeing the JEANIE  JOHNSTON project in Tralee announced that the replica emigrant ship's trans-Atlantic voyage had been postponed until 2001.

The committee said that this was because the project is behind schedule, not because it is in financial difficulties. The vessel was built at a shipyard in Blennerville, and named by President McAleese in Fenit, where she is currently being fitted out.

On Saturday it was announced that the Department of the Marine has allocated IR£2million towards the ship's completion. The vessel having exceeded its original IR£4m budget.

It is expected that the JEANIE JOHNSTON will now be completed by August and will undertake a tour of Irish ports both north and south this Autumn before sailing for the USA in 2001.


It appears that P&O may face industrial action by the officers' union NUMAST  this summer. The action is in protest at a 1.2% pay offer. Talks are currently underway to try and avert strike action.


P&O has become the latest operator to introduce a summer fares offer between the UK and Ireland during the peak holiday period of July and August.

The company is offering a standard return for a car and two passengers on day time sailings from £189. The press release suggests that this is "for our web site customers"

  Alternatively a Standard Return of £264.50 for car plus 2 passengers with a Combination of Day and Night Sailings. is also offered. Fares are fully inclusive of meals.


HMS INVINCIBLE [R05] departed from the Mersey on Tuesday morning June 27, accompanied by minesweeper HMS BICESTER [M36]. HMS NORFOLK [F230] and HMS CHIDDINGFOLD [M37] departed from Birkenhead on Tuesday's evening tide.

HMS UNSEEN [S41] Upholder Class submarine which was completed by Cammell Laird in 1991 arrived back at the Birkenhead yard on Saturday evening July 1.

She has returned to Lairds for work to be undertaken prior to her departure on lease to the Canadian Navy. 

Sister vessel and final member of the Upholder class,  HMS UNICORN [S43], was the final vessel to be launched by the former Cammell Laird under VSEL ownership in 1993.

As a result of defence cuts the Upholder class were paid off in 1994 and laid up at Barrow pending sale. All four members of the class are expected to be delivered to the Canadian Navy at six monthly intervals.


The green light has been given to a car ferry service between Co Donegal and Co Londonderry.

The European Union and International Fund for Ireland (IFI) are providing the bulk of the £4.2 million sterling for the new service.

It will operate across Lough Foyle linking Greencastle in Co Donegal to Magilligan in Co Londonderry with and is due to go into service in 12 months time.

Announcing that funding was in place, Mr William McCarter, chairman of the IFI, said: "The project will put in place a major piece of tourism infrastructure which will lure tourists visiting attractions along the north coast of Northern Ireland into Donegal and vice versa."

Speaking at a news conference in Greencastle, he said it would also enable passengers from the large cruise ships now berthing in the mouth of the Foyle to disembark to either location "making a positive contribution to the economies of both areas".

The EU peace and reconciliation fund is providing around £2 million, the IFI just under £1 million for the project. The balance is being provided partly by the Government, who are giving £700,000. Donegal Council and Limavady Council in Co Derry are putting up the remaining £500,000.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowan, said: "This ferry link will bring major benefits, both economically and socially to the north west region as a whole and hopefully help to offset the region's isolation and disadvantage by increasing significantly its commercial and tourism potential, and thereby helping to boost cross-border trade."

The chairman of the North West Cross Border Group, Councillor Willie
O'Connell, said the project would address social and economic inclusion for two communities who had long faced each other across Lough Foyle.


A traffic warden is set attempt to become the first person to cross the Irish Sea - on a jet-ski.

John Power, 48, from Birkenhead, Merseyside will start his journey in Dublin, hoping to land on the other side of the water in Liverpool a marathon ten hours and 122 miles later.

He hopes to raise £2,000 for medical equipment for Arrowe Park Hospital, Birkenhead.

His 760cc Yamaha Waverunner can do up to 50 mph - but only if the weather is good and the water flat. John's been training for six months for the punishing voyage.

"Some workmates think I'm mad," John said. "But they get sea-sick in the bath, they even said things like, 'Why don't you just go round and round the boating lake?'.

"I just wanted to raise some money for the hospital - and I wanted to challenge myself - maybe its a midlife crisis.

"It's a fantastic feeling when you get right out and there will be no sighting of land in the middle. Its a bit scary and lonely but also a great adrenalin buzz."

John's jet ski will be followed by two support boats with a paramedic and police divers on board to cope with any emergency.

Refuelling will take place at sea and the RNLI and RAF Valley will all be on stand by, tracking the voyage.

John hopes if he crosses successfully it will be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records.


The SOLWAY HARVESTER which sank in January with the loss of her seven man crew has finally been raised from the Irish Sea and towed into Ramsey Harbour. 

The vessel was raised by the Belgian company Scaldis Salvage using their heavy lift vessel NORMA. She was towed into Ramsey Harbour by the Laxey Towing Company's tug WENDY ANN her arrival being observed according to the local press by over 1000 onlookers.

To date MAIB experts have relied on video evidence collected by underwater cameras, this resulted in an  initial report from the MAIB which indicated that a hatch had been left open and liferafts were not attached to the vessel. However, there has been continued speculation that the dredger may have been in collision with a container or another vessel.

It is hoped that with the vessel ashore investigators will be able to determine the cause of the tragedy which resulted in the deaths of the crew their bodies being recovered by divers in February.

The crewmen were all from the villages of Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn and Garlieston in the Machars area of Galloway, south-west Scotland.

They were skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, his brother Robin, 33, their cousin David, 17, Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17.

The cost of raising the wreck for investigation has been paid for by the Isle of Man Government and has been considered to palce the island's government in  favourable light than compared to that of the adjacent larger countries who have not followed such a pro-active stance on investigating the losses of vessels.


To improve the flow of information to all investors, Associated British Ports Holdings PLC (ABPH) has decided to issue trading updates ahead of its interim and preliminary results. The first of these statements, in respect of the six months ending 30 June 2000, is issued today ahead of the Group's interim results announcement, which is scheduled for 7 September 2000.


Trading has been strong across all the Group's principal businesses. The key factors underpinning this performance are as follows:

Pre-tax profit for the half-year to 30 June 2000 is expected to be ahead of current market expectations and the Group's underlying earnings per share is expected to be at least 18% ahead of the comparable period of the previous year.

Group turnover is expected to increase by at least 12% as a result of strong throughput at the Group's UK ports and substantial property sales.

 Increased throughput at the Group's UK ports has been driven by increases in both dry and liquid bulks, together with higher volumes of container and roll-on/roll-off traffic.

The Group's strategy of disposing of non-core assets has continued and operating profit from property development will be significantly higher than the corresponding period last year.


Turnover from the Group's main ports and transport activities is expected to increase by at least 7%, leading to a rise of at least 6% in operating profit.

Business at the UK ports has developed well, benefiting from the organisational changes put in place last year, the actions of the new management team, and the investment programme of recent years.

The Group's UK ports have experienced an increase in conventional traffic. All liquid bulks, including oil, have increased tonnages. Higher volumes of dry bulks are also being handled, driven by imports of coal and iron ore and exports of agribulks. Demand in unit load traffic also remains strong.

Several new developments involving long-term agreements with quality customers have also been announced during the first six months. This is in line with the Group's strategy of growing existing business and developing new business through rigorously targeted investment. Due to the long lead
times in these agreements becoming operational they will not be reflected in the first half-year results.

Grimsby & Immingham

Grimsby & Immingham is on track to produce a record level of throughput for the fifteenth successive year. The Humber International Terminal opened on time earlier this month and a five-year agreement has already been signed with Enron Coal Services Ltd to import coal through the terminal. Exxtor
Shipping Services Ltd, the Group's roll-on/roll-off terminal operator at Immingham, has signed a new long-term agreement with a new customer, Lys-Line A/S, which will be effective from the beginning of August 2000.

Hull & Goole

Roll-on/roll-off trade at Hull has seen further expansion and the port has won new contracts which will generate future growth. The new Finland Terminal, which provides covered accommodation for paper, paperboard, pulp and panel products, was officially opened in May. The Group is also investing £13 million to construct a new passenger terminal at Hull for the world's largest super-cruise ferries, which will be completed in April 2001.


Container throughput and vehicle-handling at Southampton have shown continued growth. In March the Group signed a ten-year agreement with P&O Cruises to construct a new cruise terminal; the agreement reaffirmed P&O's commitment to Southampton as the principal UK port of call for its vessels. It also coincided with a significant increase in capacity for P&O with the arrival of the new superliner Aurora. Southampton's position as one of the UK's leading fresh produce-handling ports was reinforced in April when the agreement with the Federation of Canary Island Producers was renewed and extended for the long term.

South Wales

The South Wales ports are enjoying a good first half, experiencing a recovery in iron ore, coal and steel volumes. The ports have benefited from improved facilities attracting new traffic throughout the region. Volumes handled show a significant increase compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

Shortsea Ports

Volumes were also up at the Shortsea ports as they continued to win new contracts and customers, which will make a significant impact on the profitability of individual ports. The new £2.3 million Coldock Terminal for agribulks was opened in Ipswich in March and, last month, the port also
gained a new container service. King's Lynn has also won two important contracts: a malting barley silo complex will be opened next month for Dalgety Arable and a fertiliser-handling facility is to be developed for a new customer. A timber-handling terminal is under construction at Ayr to handle and transport timber in a more environmentally-friendly manner.


Turnover and operating profit will be ahead of the corresponding period last year. The new management team is confident that they can continue growing the business through new accounts, contracts and stronger relationships with existing customers. The Seaport division is expected to handle over 175,000 vehicles compared to 140,000 in the corresponding period of the previous year. The Aviation division has continued to benefit from the growth in regional airports and corporate jet markets.


ABPH announced earlier this month that, subject to receipt of a satisfactory offer, it intends to sell Red Funnel Group, the Southampton-based ferry and towage business. The sale of Red Funnel Group, which is currently being marketed, is part of ABPH's strategy of disposing of non-core assets, leaving the Group to focus on operating ports and logistics businesses within its ports. A sum equivalent to the net proceeds of the disposal will be returned to shareholders following completion of the sale.

Since the acquisition of Red Funnel Group in 1989, the vehicle capacity has been expanded by 230 per cent, with the replacement of three ageing small ferries by the current fleet of three large ferries, each of which has a capacity of 140 cars and 910 passengers. In addition, Red Funnel Group owns and operates three high-speed catamarans and three modern tractor tugs.


Overall, the Group's associates are expected to produce an operating profit ahead of the comparable six-month period last year.


The Group's policy of selling mature, non-operational port-located sites and exploiting the potential of the property portfolio continues. As a result of sales made in 1999 and 2000, operating profit from property investment is expected to reduce by less than 30%. However, operating profit from property development is expected to contribute at least £6.0 million in the six-month period (1999: £0.7 million) reflecting substantial property sales. In particular, in April a 43-acre site at Ferry Road, Cardiff Bay, was sold for £7.95 million to Cardiff County Council for a proposed sports village.



The first Maritime Dynamics Inc. Retractable T-Foil has been successfully fitted to the 96m wavepiercer Milenium (056). Following extensive research and testing the Retractable T-Foil is the latest development in Ride Control technology designed and built by MDI in conjunction with Incat.

A Ride Control System is fitted to vessels to maximise passenger comfort. Previously Incat has worked with MDI to develop and install active ride control system on its vessels. The original design comprises of two pivoting T-foils near the bows and two trim tabs at the transom. The new system combines the existing active trim tabs aft with a single Retractable T-Foil located at the aft end of the centre bow replacing the bolt-on foils on each hull. The result – the T-Foil is only in the water when required bringing a reduction in fuel consumption and wear and tear. In seas up to 2.5m it is generally found that the T-Foil is not required.

Each active control service responds independently to a computer, which receives information from strategically placed motion sensors. With the ability to almost anticipate the craft’s next move the active ride control system dramatically reduces pitch, roll and heave, the major contributors to motion discomfort.

Results of MDI / Incat testing of the latest Ride Control System found:

  • In 4.0m seas a reduction of up to 40% in motion will occur with the Ride Control System active.

  • In 3.0m seas reductions of 50% in motion will occur with the RCS active.

  • In 2.0m seas the active RCS reduces motion to below 2%.

As well as allowing the travelling public the ultimate in sea going comfort the increased economies of the new Ride Control System will be of major interest to operators. With the T-Foil remaining housed in the centre bow when not in use fuel consumption plus wear and tear is lowered and 1.5 knots is added to the vessel’s speed. With its location in the centre bow full access to the T-Foil is gained through an inspection hatch. The need for anti-fouling on the foil is eliminated but more importantly so too is the need for dry-docking should the foil require attention.


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